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Police urge public to report child abuse

Written by on April 18, 2024

We are appealing to teachers and members of the community to alert the police when they notice strange behaviour in children, says Oshana police regional commander commissioner Naftal Sakaria.

Sakaria said this in an interview with The Namibian after a 37-year-old woman was arrested earlier this week for the rape and assault of her nine-year-old son at a village in Okaku constituency.

The boy reportedly informed a member of the community about being raped by his mother.

The person subsequently took both to the police station, where the mother was arrested.

The mother made her first appearance in court yesterday. Her case was postponed to 13 May and she remains in custody.

“It takes a village to raise a child, we must speak for them. We would not have known about this case if a concerned member of the public did not bring it to our attention,” Sakaria said.

Furthermore, he said children unfortunately don’t have the capacity to report such cases to the police.

“There are laws in the country that protect children and we will not allow anything brought to our attention to slide, for it is our duty to uphold these laws for the protection of our children,” he added.

According to Sakaria, the boy has previously been burnt by firewood and has visible scars on his body. It is alleged that the mother would burn him whenever he rebuffed her advances.

“The mother is expected to undergo psychiatric evaluation, at this point any reasonable person would want to think that something is wrong with any mother that does this to their child,” Sakaria said.

“Over the last two years of being in the region, I have not received reports of this nature. This is a first of its kind, as such cases are very rare,” he noted.

Clinical psychologist Shaun Whittaker said this is a very extreme case and he suspects the mother may have a psychiatric condition.

He said the long-term psychological effects on the child will be severe and he hopes the child receives long term psychological treatment for the trauma he has endured.

The boy will also need a good support system in order to be able to continue with school, Whittaker said.

“It was clearly a highly traumatic experience for the child. One needs family, friends and neighbours to be alert in order to avoid such incidents of assault and rape,” he said.

“When you see someone hitting the child, there is a need to report it and there needs to be a change in mindset,” said Whittaker.

“It is our collective responsibility to care for children, to ensure they are safe and sound. There is also a need to understand that children have certain rights,” he added.

Ondonga Traditional Authority spokesperson Frans Enkali said abuse that occurs in households is very difficult to identify and report.

The safety and security of children are questionable in homes and society as a whole. Many people are now scared to leave their children with other members of the family, he said.

“When family members hear about the report of such incidents, there might be family tension and end up doing bad things to one another,” Enkali said.

Furthermore, he said the community only speaks when you do things wrong, but never speaks when you do things right.

“The family will be known as one [where] mothers rape their children, which will go on for generations,” he added.

“When such cases are reported to the police, it is difficult for the traditional authority to get involved until it’s finalised. We wait until the family members report the case,” Enkali said.

He said it is challenging to deal with such cases at a traditional level, because they don’t have the necessary instruments to conduct investigations and run tests. He made the example of tests to prove when a child has been raped, as well as the storing of evidence.

He said they are keeping an eye on the case to see how it develops.

He said the traditional authority is willing to provide the necessary support needed.

“We have a vulnerability department that deals with such cases, which also liaises with various authorities such as the police and gender ministry,” he added.

Additionally, he implored members of the community to report such cases as they play a crucial role in making society a safer space for children.

The post Police urge public to report child abuse appeared first on The Namibian.

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